pregnancy

"It's worth it a million times over." In 2018, Melissa became a single mother by choice.

Five years ago, Melissa Smith decided that she wanted to become a mother.

The now 40-year-old, who is based in Sydney, was single – but she knew she was ready.

“When I was getting around the 35 mark, I started to feel like I was just on this hamster wheel of life and going out on weekends and getting drunk and trying to online date and I was just going around in circles,” she told Mamamia.

“I was watching all of my friends start to meet serious partners, get engaged and have babies and I felt like I was still doing the same thing.”

After realising just how much she wanted a baby of her own, Melissa made a decision – she was going to embark on motherhood alone.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast, The Quicky, investigates sperm donation in Australia. Post continues after podcast.

“I just sort of thought: ‘Why not? What’s holding me back? I’m a strong woman and I’ve achieved a lot in my life. I can do it,'” she said.

Although the now 40-year-old briefly considered adoption, she ultimately choose to have a baby with the help of a sperm donor.

“A part of me really wanted to have a piece of me out there with all of my characteristics,” she said.

“[Using a sperm donor] definitely appealed more to me in my situation.”

After going for an initial consultation at an IVF clinic, Melissa’s journey to motherhood began.

Following a series of tests and counselling sessions, the Sydney woman began the process to chose a sperm donor.

In her case, the IVF clinic that she used offered access to Australian donors who had donated directly to the clinic as well as donors from a US sperm bank.

“I opted to go through the US sperm bank instead of the Australian donors because there was more variety and there was a lot more information available of the donors,” Melissa said.

“Through the US sperm bank that I went through, I was able to look through photos from when the donor was a baby right up until adulthood, they had written a letter to the child, there was every kind of medical test that you could imagine, they had done some counselling,” she explained.

“I also could have downloaded a recording of the donor’s voice – but I just chose not to because I didn’t want that to impact on my decision.”

WATCH: Angela Bishop never thought that she would be a single mum. Post continues below.

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By law in Australia, a child born of an anonymous sperm donor will be able to – if they want to – know the identity of their ‘father’ once they turn 18.

Further to that, they also have to have counselling before they donate.

For Melissa, it took about a year – and multiple cycles – between initially starting IVF and falling pregnant.

“I was in a situation where I have polycystic ovaries, so I was producing a lot of eggs but they weren’t of a great quality,” she said.

“My son is the lucky number 56 egg.”

In 2017, Melissa fell pregnant with her son.

“I guess I didn’t want to believe it at first. It all felt quite surreal,” Melissa recalled.

“I remember getting the results and going from hysterically laughing to crying to thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is actually happening, I have been dreaming about this for so long.'”

sperm donation australia
Image: Supplied.

The first few months of Melissa's pregnancy weren't always easy.

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"I was really sick for the first six months so that was really hard on me," she recalled.

"That's when I did find it a struggle sometimes being alone, because I'd be at work all day – and sometimes I was throwing up to five times a day at work – and I'd come home and I'd just be so tired and so sick and I'd wish that I had someone there to give me a hug and look after me."

"Those kind of times were hard. But once I got through the morning sickness, it was all good."

Thankfully, Melissa was supported entirely by her family and friends throughout the entire process.

"My family are amazing. I think I might have had second thoughts [about becoming a mum] if I didn't have a supportive family like I do," she said.

"They have been with me, cheering me on every step of the way – and it's the same way with my friends as well."

On January 25th 2018, Melissa gave birth to her son, Nate.

She was joined in the delivery room by one of her closest friends.

sperm donation australia
Image: Supplied.

"I had my closest friend that I've know since we were babies. She was kind of my birth partner," she said.

"She had three kids of her own at the same hospital and she was just amazing. She knew when to make me laugh and when to hold my hand," she added.

"I was in the birthing suite for 24 hours. It was a failed induction and they were ready to give me a caesarean and at the last minute, he kind of popped out quite quickly in 20 minutes."

In January next year, Nate turn two years old.

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But while Melissa has three other embryos frozen in storage, she's not in a rush to have another child just yet.

"It does cross my mind sometimes," she said.

"I think at the moment, I’m just so happy with the two of us. We’ve got such a great life and now that he’s a little bit older, we’ve just found our groove and we’re going really well so I’m not sure whether I’d bring another baby into the mix at the moment," she added.

"I’m keeping the embryos stored because you don’t know what could happen down the track. If I met someone and they were open to having a child, I would definitely be happy to look into it but at the moment, I'm pretty happy with the two of us."

sperm donation australia
Image: Supplied.

Following her experience, the mother-of-one has one piece of advice for other women in the same boat.

"If your biggest dream in life is to become a mum like it was mine, the process to get there is worth it a million times over," she said.

"I now have such a sense of inner contentment to know that my biggest dream in life came true and everything else now is just the icing on the cake.

"I know that no matter what, the future will be bright for me and my little best friend."

Feature Image: Supplied.

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